YouTube Credit: NBAErik
LOOK WHO’S UNSTOPPABLE now.
Forget that incredible San Antonio streak of 20 straight wins. That’s ancient history, and the way the Oklahoma City Thunder have taken complete command of the Western Conference finals, the Spurs might soon be finished themselves.
Kevin Durant scored 27 points and the Thunder are on the brink of the NBA Finals, beating the Spurs 108-103 in Game 5 on Monday night and going from an 0-2 hole to moving within a victory of a series knockout. Their first chance will be on Wednesday night at home, where they’re unbeaten in the playoffs.
“We never thought we’re supposed to wait our turn,” Durant said. “Coach always emphasizes that with every opportunity that you step on the floor. It’s a great opportunity to get better. To get to our dream.”
Russell Westbrook added 23 and the Thunder took a 3-2 lead in a wildly entertaining Western Conference finals. Looking invincible while carrying a 20-game winning streak a week ago — the fourth-longest in NBA history — the Spurs have lost three straight and are on the verge of a stunning collapse.
Manu Ginobili scored 34 in a smashing return to the starting lineup, and the switch showed just how much Spurs coach Gregg Popovich knew his team might be in trouble. The only way the Spurs would have considered the move a success is had they won, and that chance went clanging off the back of the rim with 4.9 seconds left when Ginobili missed an off-balance three.
Ginobili then walked to the scorer’s table, made a fist and hammered it down.
“It wasn’t a great shot, but it wasn’t a bad one,” Ginobili said. “It just didn’t go in.”
It was the Spurs first loss at home since April 11.
– Paul J. Weber